The French Ministry of Agriculture this week announced that potato producers who had to allocate processing potatoes to outlets other than for the process sector due to the pandemic will financially be compensated for losses incurred. Producers have until February 2 to apply online. The news site Terres et Territoires reports that ‘good things come to those who wait for it’. After six months of waiting, potato producers will finally be compensated “for the losses resulting from diverting unprocessed potatoes to other outlets, in the context of the health crisis associated with the Covid-19 pandemic”.
COVID-19 has “scrambled” the outlook for potato growers, said economist Bruce Huffaker, who is president of North American Potato Market News, Inc. Huffaker believes the potato market has made up a great deal of ground following the COVID-19 hit, and demand should be relatively strong looking ahead. Between April and June, global trade in french fries declined by 30%. It’s been recovering since then, Huffaker said. “One of the challenges we are seeing still is while global trade is only down 2.8%, North American exports are still running 15% behind last year’s pace,” Huffaker said.
Lockdown had led to a sudden shift from a crop shortfall following weather challenges last season to a surplus for potato giant McCain, as it lost 50 per cent of sales overnight. The last 10 years have thrown up multiple climate challenges for potato growers and McCain was looking to help create certainty for farmers and build supply chain resilience. Daniel Metheringham, McCain head of agriculture, said: “This time last year we were sat in the midst of a crop crisis because of weather volatility. When we hit Covid-19, all of a sudden we went from a crop shortfall to a crop surplus.”
Exactly a year ago, potatoes were seeing tight supplies and solid demand and it was expected that pricing would be strong in 2020. Then came Covid-19. Bruce Huffaker, President of North American Potato Market News, says: “It’s been a very big challenge for the industry and for people in general.” 2020 has been the first year since 2003 that the global French fry trade has been in decline compared with the previous year, and while it won’t be able to recover this trend in 2021, it might be able to get back there in 2022, says Huffaker.
This past year has thrown several challenges at Maine potato farmers, leading to decreased production amidst the chaos of a pandemic. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s crop production forecast for November reported Maine potato production at 13.4 million cwt, down 20 percent from last year’s forecast. Bob Davis, president at Maine Farmers Exchange, based in Presque Isle, ME, attributed the decrease to a very dry summer. “It will make our crop the smallest Maine has had since 1918,” he said.
NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) says it is unsure of the current potato situation and does not expect major changes in the demand side of the market in the coming weeks. NEPG says in a press release that due to the pandemic, there is hardly any demand for potatoes on the open market from the processing industry, and prices are on an extremely low level. Another large challenge is the actual sprouting threat reported by growers.
Long-time senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute and author, Michael Sansolo sits down with Eye on Potatoes to talk about some of the changes the pandemic brought about in 2020 and their potential lasting impacts for the food industry. Also: Kam Quarles, National Potato Council CEO, provides an update on the latest news coming out of D.C., including the nomination of former Secretary Tom Vilsack to return to USDA
The government of Prince Edward Island will help the province’s seed potato growers with an assistance program to compensate for the negative effects COVID-19 has had on their industry. The Seed Potato Recovery Program is a $1.19 million fund for seed growers who can demonstrate that they have incurred extraordinary costs associated with the pandemic. Applications will be open until January 15, 2021.
AHDB in the UK has secured an emergency authorisation (EA) for the use of as yet unapproved sprout suppressant 1?4 dimethylnaphthalene (DMN). The approval is limited to the supply chains of some major processors, as the Chemical Regulations Division (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) turned down an original wider application made in August.
As the holiday season gets closer, demand for Wisconsin potatoes is stronger than last year. “We have a good supply of Wisconsin red and gold potatoes from this year’s crop along with an excellent supply of year-round of russet potatoes,” says Christine Lindner, marketing manager for Friesland, WI-based Alsum Farms & Produce. Lindner says the company continues to add potato acreage.
Slowdown in processing demand, restaurant closures during pandemic caused a drop in Canadian potato production
According to a production report issued by Statistics Canada today, Canadian seeded area declined 1.4% from 2019 to 357,085 acres in 2020, the result of a decrease in demand at processing plants due to the closure of restaurants and bars during the early stages of the pandemic. Harvested area increased 3.0% from 2019 to 352,155 acres, because the previous year had poor harvest conditions and large areas of abandonment (20,251 acres) in 2019.
Potato farmers and officials in the Kurdistan Region say coronavirus movement restrictions have dried up the potato export market this year. “Our main market is in Iraq’s southern provinces and traders could not move easily [to transport their products],” Dr Amjad Ubeyid, a ministry of agriculture official, told Rudaw on Sunday.
Small scale farmers are responsible for the food that lands on 70 percent of Peruvian dinner tables, officials say, but months of pandemic lockdown and a souring economy have left many bankrupt and questioning whether to plant again. Strict quarantines early in the pandemic made transporting beans, potatoes and other crops to markets difficult. Prices plummeted as demand dropped.
UK based Linwood Crops was established in 2016 by four potato specialists with over 100 years in combined experience. They set out to create a passionate business dedicated to supplying fresh Potatoes based on taste and purpose. Matt Thory, Linwood’s Commercial Director says it is clear that his passion for the brand has made the decision to agree an exit plan very difficult.
Few industries have been so affected by the Corona pandemic as the potato industry. From the hoarding in spring to the sales problems with peeled potatoes in the wake of the current lockdown closure of restaurants and other eateries. The year 2020 was without doubt a remarkable marketing year for the German potato industry. Volker Peters – Managing Director of Helle Niedersachsen – looks back on the year and reflects on the future.
It’s been a year since First Coast News started following a local farmer, sharing with you his successes and struggles. When they started this story, First Coast News had no idea the troubles farmers would face because of a pandemic. This is the final installment in this story, showing how the weather is an age-old challenge for farmers and how Covid is something new. With a thousand acres of potatoes, spuds are the main source of income for the Jones family in Florida.
On Nov. 12, the Idaho Potato Commission hosted its annual Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting, open to everyone in the Idaho potato industry. NPC CEO Kam Quarles provided an update on the federal policy victories and activities undertaken by the National Potato Council and its state potato organization partners in 2020, and set the stage for an active 2021. Kam Quarles began by saying that though 2020 isn’t over yet, looking back on it is almost like viewing two entirely separate worlds – “one is pre-Covid. and the other is the world that we’ve been dealing with since the shutdown started.”
The government of Prince Edward Island will help the province’s seed potato growers with an assistance program to compensate for the negative effects COVID-19 has had on their industry. The provincial government says in a news release that the Seed Potato Recovery Program is a $1.19 million fund for seed growers who can demonstrate that they have incurred extraordinary costs associated with the pandemic.
The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) Board of Directors announced that The 2021 class was originally scheduled to meet February 17-25, 2021, will be hosted virtually. NPC is moving the 2021 Potato D.C. Fly-In to a virtual event. The meeting will occur the week of Feb. 22-26 as originally scheduled.
Idaho’s iconic potato industry suffered through a major scare due to the restrictions and shutdowns imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. But major efforts by the industry that were coordinated by the state and national groups that represent it have helped potato producers weather that storm. And one major silver lining of the challenge is that U.S. consumers have learned how important spuds are. That was one of the main messages during the Idaho Potato Commission’s annual, “The Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting,” which was held virtually Nov. 12.
As FreshPlaza reports, just over a week ago, the North-Western European Potato Growers Association (NEPG) sent out a call. They want the sector’s acreage to be reduced by at least 15% for the 2021/2022 season. This is an emergency measure to nip the effects of the coronavirus in the bud. For instance, the hospitality industry has been closed. But does this measure offer real relief? How realistic is the NEPG’s appeal?
US potato exports for the July – September quarter were down significantly compared to the same period in 2019, Potatoes USA says in a news release issued today. The body says this drop is a result of the pandemic’s continuing impact on the demand in many markets, particularly in SE Asia and Central America and the tight supplies of US frozen potato products. Additionally, exports for this period in 2019 were at record levels, so the bar was set very high.
Lockdown 2.0 “arrived” in Britain and this brings widespread closure of pubs and restaurants once again. Although the rules differ across the country, with Wales’ firebreak rules coming to an end, Scotland experiencing regional restrictions and England in a full national lockdown. This will inevitably effect the potato industry, but the effect is unlikely to be as dramatic as the first lockdown, according to the AHDB.
In view of on-going developments with COVID-19 and after thoughtful discussions with its Executive Committee and supporting companies, and through feedback via attendee surveys, the organizers of the Potato Expo 2021 event say they have decided to hold the coming event as a Virtual Experience only, held exclusively online. The show will take place on Tuesday, January 5 through Thursday, January 7, 2021. We believe this is the safest approach for the well-being of our attendees, along with their families, farms and colleagues.